Credit Card Companies

Credit card reader in taxi drivers hand in carIt’s a situation that’s familiar around the world. You’re in a foreign land, on a business trip, and you’ve just arrived at the airport. It’s late, you’re pretty fried from the trip, and you can feel the emails piling up in your inbox (but can’t start tackling them because data roaming is so expensive).

So you get in a taxi and wave your credit card in a meaningful way. “Ah sorry, the machine is broken!” is the response you get – or the local language equivalent. This is despite a big fat sticker on the taxi’s window proclaiming to the world that the driver is pleased – no, let’s say glad – actually, let’s call it PROUD to accept all major brands of credit card.

“Can you pay by cash instead?”

It took me some time to figure out that it’s not a terrible reliability issue with the credit card terminals (oh, how I now yearn for the days of the “ritsch ratsch” or “zick zack” machine which would make a carbon copy of your credit card on a little payment slip).

The truth is much more worrying for credit card companies: I think there’s an unwritten but global reluctance by taxi drivers to pay the credit card companies’ overheads. This has to be combined with the fact that cash is untraceable, and therefore much easier to simply slip into a pocket and circumvent official payment / taxation / reporting processes, of course.

In the past, I’ve fallen for the “broken” machine trick and reluctantly dug into my reserves of foreign cash – or even agreed that the driver should take me on a diversion via a cashpoint, and wait – of course keeping the meter running – while I grabbed some local dollar.

Recently, my more stubborn approach of pointing out that since the sticker’s on the window, maybe the driver would like to have a go at fixing the problem, seems to be working. Maybe I’m just lucky, because each and every time I’ve suggested this, the credit card machine has miraculously come back to life, once it has been dug out of the glovebox, or from deep under the passenger seat …

The moral of the story being that perhaps one of the major credit card companies could absolutely and comprehensively corner the market for card acceptance in taxis simply by revisiting the merchant fees charged to taxi drivers – which appear to run to a maximum of 3 percent, according to the results of some Googling. Or perhaps some kind of points system where the drivers would be incentivized to accept your piece of proffered plastic. This would also be good for the credit card companies’ PR – after all, it’s hardly reassuring when your first attempt to use your plastic in a distant land is rebuffed.


By Simon Jones

Chicago Cabbie January 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm

I drive a cab in Chicago. Yeah credit cards for me are a problem. We in Chicago lose at LEAST 5 % of our already low fares not 3%. The cab companies are taking a percentage or two and maybe the city government too. Then we get more WORK doing administrative work w credit cards which doesn exist w cash. I think this is just another case of the powerful kicking the weak…for fun…because they can…Powerful banksters forcing their will on ALL of us not just cab drivers. Forcing all of us to move towardsccredit cards bc they get a piece of the action. With cash they dont.

Powerful city government s beating up weak cab drivers. Powerful , rich cab companies stealing from poor cabbies.

Here in Chicago cab fares haven’t been raised in a way thats meaningful to cabbies for nearly 9 years. But the city thinks thats funny…apparently.

So the MANDATE that cabbies take credit cards, get more work and lose money to fees & time lost to extra work is FUN, you see. Everybodies happy. Except the cabbies. And who cares about them. How dare they not take credit cards.

No but your idea of giving cabbies an incentive is good. I think ensuring that only legit fees to banks are whats taken and no extra fees that go to rapacious cab companies and city governments

Not that credut card fees are really legit, but atvleast its what most merchants lose.

Charge customers a convenience fee if they want to pay with a credit card. Many governments & companies alreaey do this. The fee should THOUGHOUGJLY cover all losses & fees cabbies take. Then customers who want to or HAVE to pay w a cc can.

Hows that for an incentive ? Credit card companies & banksters will get their mafia extortion money, cabbies wont lose a dime or a minute of time if the customer is charged a high enuf fee, even a bit for legit aadministrative costs to cab companies. Pass it all onto the customer. Hows that ?

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